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First Look: Coming of age with autism

CARMEL, Ind. – In recent years states facing budget crises have cut spending for agencies that serve people with developmental disabilities. This is at a time when the need for these services is growing. According to the University of Minnesota, the number of people with disabilities is expected to increase by more than 15 percent over the next decade.

For our ongoing series, The Watch List, Need to Know’s Maria Hinojosa spent time with families in Indiana who are fighting to get their children with developmental disabilities the services they need. The climate for them is tough. Over the last three years the state has reduced its funding for the Family and Social Services Administration, the agency that oversees services for people with disabilities, by 25 percent.

For this First Look video, Maria sat down with David Guire and his family in Carmel, Ind. His son Matthew is coming of age with severe autism and requires 24/7 residential care to ensure that he stays safe and is getting the education and treatment he needs. Guire, a single father who works as a diesel technician for the Indiana public school system, depends on state funding to pay for Matthew’s care.

In September, Guire was devastated to hear that the state may no longer pay for 15-year-old Matthew to stay in his current placement, a facility Guire struggled for years to get Matthew in because of the intensive treatment it offers. Guire says he would have to quit his job to care for his son if the state no longer paid for residential care. Matthew and David Guire are not the only ones whose future is uncertain. There are more than 200,000 young people with developmental disabilities nationwide who are coming of age at a time when states are strapped.



  • Annie

    When this father quits his job to care for his son will he require some sort of welfare payments? I cannot see how this will save a dime for the state of Indiana.

  • Worried Mom

    Programming for children continues to be cut, as well. Services for families with children in their homes have been hit hard every year…group homes and state-run facilities cost SIGNIFICANTLY more than providing support services for families to keep their children in their homes. When will states’ realize this?

  • madeleine dircks

    how true worried mom. our ideal is to try to keep our children home.

  • Harris

    Although the program was well done, it only focused on higher-functioning people with intellectual disabilities. There are many people who require Intermediate care Facilities (ICFs) with 24-hour care. My son is one of them. He is moderately-severely mentally retarded, has cerebral palsy affecting his speech, and has unexpected outbreaks of strong physical aggression. He needs a facility that has trained persons and high structure. There are numerous studies that explain that ICFs are no more expensive than a group home setting, once all the support systems are added. Additionally, there are many ongoing law suits because insufficiently trained home managers lead to deaths, abuse and neglect. The Olmstead Supreme Court decision was clear in saying that CHOICE is a right, and that group homes don’t meet everyone’s needs.

  • Harris

    To suggest that all people with intellectual disabilities can successfully reside at home shows a lack of understanding the range of how serious disabilities can be. It should not be an “either-or”. Groups with intellectually disabled people are attacking each other rather than deal with our legislators on basic needs across the spectrum of disabilities. Just because my son may not have the higher IQ your child might have, doesn’t mean me and my advocacy group should be treated as though your IQ knows what is best for us and the country.